National View: Reliable coal an important part of US energy mix

From the column: "Our country is fortunate to have some of the world’s greatest natural resources. ... Coal is, and must remain, one of those."

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Coal is a vital and valuable natural resource with diverse applications, including electrical generation, steel manufacturing, carbon products, and rare earth mineral byproducts. Our country is fortunate to have some of the world’s greatest natural resources, which, if properly managed, can contribute to both energy and economic security worldwide.

Coal is, and must remain, one of those resources.

America’s greatest strength is its diverse energy portfolio. Energy security is crucial to the economic viability of the U.S., and coal has to be part of a balanced energy plan. Coal, more than any other fuel source, provides reliable, secure, and affordable energy.

It is time to be concerned about our nation’s misguided rush to close coal-powered energy sources prior to the availability of replacement power generation.

Additionally, in order to achieve the world’s net-zero emissions goals, coal will need to be a significant contributor to the production of the infrastructure necessary.


We only need to take a hard look at Europe to see the real-world impacts of energy-policy failure, along with the resulting significant increase in energy prices, which dramatically affect both individuals and industries. Ironically, this is the same failed policy the U.S. is now considering. Europe’s aggressive move to “green” energy left it vulnerable to energy scarcity well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Conversely, coal has proven to be among the most reliable sources of energy in the United States during extreme weather events.

Coal needs to also be celebrated for its critical role in the supply chain of the infrastructure needed for renewable energy. Metallurgical coal is used to manufacture steel that is essential in the building of roads, bridges, port infrastructure, transmission towers, and wind-farm bases, all needed to support our growing energy needs.

Americans need to support technology development to maximize the use of coal. Coal is a cheap and abundant U.S. resource that has also been shown to be rich in rare earth minerals that are critical in the manufacture of batteries and other electronics.

Currently, the U.S. relies too heavily on foreign (particularly Chinese) processing and imports for our rare earth minerals. The time is now to expedite the research and development of coal processes and carbon-product technologies, utilizing a natural resource that is already permitted and mined in volume — while continuing to develop our other domestic mineable resources.

Coal cannot be the orphan fossil fuel. It needs to be included in the dialogue. Coal continues to support our energy needs and is especially vital during extreme weather events. Coal is essential to cost-effectively building the infrastructure needed for our growing energy needs, and coal can also be a solution to the scarcity of rare earth minerals.

Emily Arthun of Gillette, Wyoming, is CEO of the American Coal Council (, a trade organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. She wrote this for the News Tribune.

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Emily Arthun

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